Can You Job Hunt, Live with Illness and Stay Motivated

careerowmanLooking for a job in a depressed economy and living with a chronic illness that makes your employment history a bit “sketchy”.

Yikes, it doesn’t sound pretty. But at the moment, that describes many of my clients. Not surprising, is it? Ten years ago, a robust, growing economy made it much easier for anyone – even with disabling symptoms – to find a job. But that’s not now.

As one person confided recently, “The good news is that when I go to networking events, so many are in this sinking boat with me . At least I don’t feel like it’s just me and must be my fault.” Cold comfort.

How do you keep the job search going when all you hear is how bad it is? How do you force yourself out of bed each day, especially if your body is in pain or a state of extreme fatigue?

On a recent call, L started by setting “desired outcomes” for our meeting, as we always do. She wondered how to stay motivated when she keeps hitting stone walls in her job search. She spinning – – feeling hopeful with a new lead and then, realizing it’s going nowhere, losing heart.

For a brief moment, I was right there with her and felt her fear. But then I realized that we could break this overwhelm feeling into pieces she could hold onto and manage. As we discussed it, we both realized that a project management approach would help her stay away from distracting emotions and keep her on point.

Four questions to frame the “finding a job” project:

1. What do I want to achieve? Just like with any project, you have to be able to define your desired outcomes. Describe the kind of job AND what it would do for you so you can remember why this is so important.
2. Why do I believe this is possible? Identifying this helps you stay motivated and focused. Even if your first response is to say, “I don’t”, that’s just not true. Some part of you believes . Dig deep and find it.
3. How long can I realistically give this? It’s easy to spend some time every day worrying that since this hasn’t happened, it will never happen. That’s a waste of your time and energy. Create a realistic time frame and don’t let yourself look back until you’ve reached it.
4. What will it take to get there? This is the specifics. Create a list of activities, including people to meet, places to go, ideas to research. Then put some kind of time frame to it. Put it on a big white board -and check off when you’ve done something so you can see how much you’ve done!

Now, for the tactics. How to keep going every day in the face of rejection or even worse, no possibilities?

1. Start every day with one thing that makes you feel good. A delicious cup of coffee, a walk , read the newspaper. Something that you look forward to and helps you get out of bed.
2. Next, do one productive thing. It doesn’t have to be work related but it has to yield tangible results. It could be washing the bathroom floor, planting some flowers, writing a note to a sick friend. This gets your juices moving.
3. Now, look at your activities list and give yourself 3 things to do that day to move your job search along.

I’d like to know what helps you? Are there things you’ve done that keep you motivated?

If you find this helpful, there are more suggestions like this regarding looking for work in the Working With Chronic Illness Workbook on my website. You don’t have to be a passive rider on the roller coaster of job hunting.

Rosalind Joffe built on her own experience of living with chronic illnesses for 30 years, including multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, when she founded This career coaching firm is dedicated to helping professionals with chronic illness develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers. Rosalind believes firmly that living with chronic illness does not preclude living a full and successful life. * She will be speaking during our Invisible Illness Week Virtual Conference.

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